Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Simple Is Good...!


After the post yesterday dealing with gravy using cornmeal instead of flour...I had several folks tell me that they could never get any type of flour gravy quite right!

Sometimes I think the reason that so many folks have a hard time with recipes, is that they want to make cooking too hard. Cooking anything should be a fun adventure, with no right way or wrong way to do it! Common sense is the best guide to use when cooking!

A low or medium fire is really all that's needed to cook nearly anything. You should never be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, because often substituting one thing for another may lead to a brand new and tasty dish! Don't overdo the grease or oil! Start with a little, adding more if needed. Same with salt!Try cooking without adding salt and only add it after you're through...or better yet, let folks add it to the dish themselves to taste!

Now as far as simple recipes for gravy goes...this one could not be any more simple. No flour, no milk, no extra ingredients...except coffee or water. Sounds a little weird, right? Take a look!

Red eye gravy is well known in the South, but little known in the rest of the United States. Also called bird-eye gravy, poor man’s gravy, red ham gravy, and muddy gravy, it is made from drippings and black coffee, although some debate that using water is better. The history of red eye gravy is rife with culinary lore.

So the story goes: Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), 7th President of the United States, called for his cook to tell him what to prepare for the morning meal. The cook had been drinking “moonshine” the night before and his eyes were rimmed in red. Taking a look at those bloody red eyes, General Jackson instructed the cook to bring him some country ham with gravy as red as his eyes. The conversation was overheard by others and from then on, ham gravy became “Red Eye Gravy.”


It doesn't get any simpler than this. Using a cast iron skillet (or your skillet of choice) fry some country style ham until brown on both sides to your liking. Remove the ham and place it on a platter to stay warm.

Take a cup of fresh brewed coffee, hot or cold, and slowly pour into the skillet. Use the coffee (or water, if that's your choice) to scrape any drippings off the skillet and continue to stir until the liquid is well mixed and very hot!.

That's it! The cooking part is over...and the gravy can be poured over grits, cornbread, biscuits, or the ham...even rice! Makes a very simple gravy or sauce that's a very tasty addition to any meal!

This is definitely a case where simple is better. Easy, fast, and uses just the things readily at hand. What more could you ask for? In this case, maybe just a second helping!

Now, my friends, how about coffee in the kitchen this morning?

21 comments:

tjbbpgobIII said...

Hermit, I loves me some red eye gravy.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as one of those souls whose gravy has a lot to be desired - just don't quite get it right a lot of times. Too runny or too thick. I'll try this one out - THANKS!

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One, I am trying to lose wieght here and you are not helping much. LOL I am on my way for some of your gravey and I don't care what you serve it with. But I will at least bring the fresh ground coffee, and a hug of course

Momlady said...

Good stuff and yes, simple to make.

HermitJim said...

Hey tjbbpgobIII ...
Hard to beat sometimes, huh!

Tanks so much for coming by today!


Hey Anon 7:12...
Couldn't hurt, I'm thinking! Besides...you can always eat the mistakes, right?

Appreciate the visit today!


Hey JoJo...You don't need to lose any weight, sweetie! Just more of you to hug, ya know?

I am sure glad you came by thi morning!


Hey Momlady...
Glad you agree,my friend! Bet you have made some of this before, huh?

Glad to see you back in the swing...and hope the weather cuts you a break soon!

Thanks for dropping in today!

Ken said...

...one of my favorites,although i've never made it with coffee,i'm thinking this is a pairing made in heaven...lol,i've always added a little cornstarch tho(just a little)...hamsteak,fried 'taters,sliced 'maters and redeye gravy is a fine meal...

...good gravy says "welcome to Dixie"...

HermitJim said...

Hey Ken...
The cornstarch would certainly help it to get a little thicker1

I love this stuff with ham, or any other kind of meat! One of the older books said to take a half a biscuit, dip it in the red eye just enough to wet the inside surface, then put a slice of ham on the biscuit to make a sandwich...sounds good tome!

Welcome to Dixie indeed! Hey, thanks for the visit today, buddy!

Tatersmama said...

Red eye biscuits... my favorite!
I've always made red eye gravy with coffee,(with or without a little cornstarch) and even my Aussie guy has decided that he likes it. Good thing he did, too! ;-)

HermitJim said...

Hey Tatersmama...
Glad you found one that he likes! Thought I was going to have to send some to ya in the mail!

You know, here they even have sausage gravy in a can? How strange is that?

I really appreciate you coming by today!

Kyddryn said...

Hey, Mister Hermit, sir...Someone says I make pretty passable gravy, but I've never made white gravy (only the brown stuff) from scratch. White gravy for country fried steak is my next culinary hurdle...it always comes out tasting too floury because I'm impatient and want to thicken it in a hurry with more flour rather than letting it cook down a bit. Sigh.

I'm game to keep trying, though...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who is right fond of redeye gravy, too)

HermitJim said...

Hey K...
When my sisters and I were young and just learning how to cook some things...my Dad would take a look at the gravy and if he thought it was too thick, he would say "pass the pudding, please". His nice way of telling all that the gravy was too thick.

By using less flour and a lower heat...stirring will cause it ti thicken pretty quickly. The floury taste comes from adding too much flour...maybe you can use corn starch instead of more flour!

Hey, keep on practicing and Thanks for coming by today!

Adorabibble said...

I use corn starch. instead of flour. easier for me and not as a hassle, altho if I make a cheese sauce for like home made mac and cheese the it is definitely flour in the rue.

Angela said...

Well, what do you know. I never knew what it was called. We make ham gravy for the potatoes whenever we cook up a ham. I do thicken it up a bit with cornstarch. I've never done it with the fried ham slices though--have to give that a try. Sounds great. :)

HermitJim said...

Hey Adora...
It's so true that using corn starch instead of flour can make a very smooth sauce or gravy. However, for gravy, I prefer the flour. Just seems to me to make it better!

Thanks so much for coming by today!


Hey Angela...
See? You learn something every time you come over to the Hermit's house, huh?

Just kidding...of course! I think that a lot of folks probably make this type of gravy, and don't know it by this name. Now when you hear someone call it "red eye" you'll know what it is, right?

This is kinda fun, isn't it? You can tell that a lot of us are on the same page, food wise!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

The Sprouting Acorn said...

I take it this is a thin gravy?

I always had an issue with lumpy gravy, until I started mixing my flour and milk in a glass before adding it to the skillet… now, it's smooth as smooth can be. :)

HermitJim said...

Hey Acorn...
As far as th original recipe goes, it was a thin gravy or sauce. However, it can be thickened with corn starch...and that's what a lot of people do.

There are as many versions of this as there are folks that make it.

Try it and enjoy! Thanks for coming by today!

One pair of Hands said...

You've done it again - completely blown me away. I've got to try this red eye gravy with coffee. I'm intrigued by your mention, in a past blog, of a cats head biscuit. Now I know that your biscuits are pretty much what we call scones, so the cats head thing has me mystified. On a steep learning curve here.

HermitJim said...

Hey Hands...
Good to see you gain! I know that some of the terms we use may be a bit confusing, but really it's just a name!

The term "cathead " comes from the size, mainly! Long time ago, someone refered to this recipe as making biscuit "as big as a cat's head" and the name just stuck.

The basic difference between a regular biscuit and a cat head biscuit is that with the regular...usually a cutter is use to cut the biscuit out. The dough for the Cat head is pinched off instead of being cut out. not really anything but tradition...and it is this small difference that makes the Cat head a little bit larger!

I hope this helps a bit. One day I'll do a post on baking biscuits.

Thanks so much for coming by today!

smunkey said...

Hello HJ,

I cant say that I have ever had the pleasure of trying "red eye", I have tried country ham and it proved to salty to my taste and maybe I am doing something wrong there. We had Gravy in every form that you can make it growing up, its cheap and easy and filling, 9sausage, hamburger and the popular SOS).One that I will try to dig up from my family is a breakfast gravy, not sure how its made but is a sweet gravy with sugar and cinnamon can be served on biscuits or with toast or on french toast or ballina (a german thin crepe like thing),

My secret to a good gravy is, after you have fried whatever meat, remove the meat and leave a lil grease in the pan add a couple tablespoons of flour and incorporate that into your hot mixture thoroughly, add your milk, start your flame on high to bring it up to a boil(add black pepper and salt) stirring constantly and scraping all the dry off the sides and the bottom and get that mixed in, it helps thicken it without adding more flour. when it comes to a boil turn it down to low and stir till it cools, then let it sit and stir occasionally, Food made in a haste becomes a waste, food made with heart, never to part.

Wretha said...

My mother always put milk in a jar with a lid, she added flour, placed the lid on and shake shake shake, then she poured that over the hot grease/drippings and stirred like crazy. That usually worked fine, no lumps and by the time it thickened up, the flour was fully cooked.

I usually go with the roux method, I sprinkle flour in the pan with the hot drippings, or if starting with no drippings, I put in equal amounts of fat/butter and flour, stir it over med heat until it expands, puffs up, the longer you cook it, the darker it gets and more flavor is developed, next add whatever liquid you want, stock and/or milk, it will sputter like crazy and it will look like it will not mix, but use a whisk and stir fast, it will mix. I don't have any exact measurements, but if you will keep it to these proportions it will work out fine, one tablespoon fat/drippings/butter, one tablespoon flour, one cup liquid, that seems to work fine, you can always increase the ingredients, just make sure you keep it to these proportions.

Another thing I discovered years ago, Wondra flour, this is the best flour for making gravies, you can add it directly to a hot liquid and it will NOT make lumps. I keep it in a container with a shaker lid, this way if I need to thicken anything, I can just shake in a little bit and stir it in, it works great! Look for it in the baking section, it comes in a blue box or in a blue canister with a shaker lid. It's also good for dredging meats for frying.

Andrea said...

Oh my goodness that takes me back to my childhood! Fried ham slices, poor man's gravy and cat-head biscuits for breakfast with Mamaw and Papaw every Sunday while my loud Uncle Bill would argue how this faction or that faction was ruining the country. Every once in a while, my papaw would make a chocolate gravy (pudding?) that we'd eat with the biscuits as we were never fond of the coffee gravy. Thanks for bringing up the sweet memories!